THE BEST LIGHT FOR RAINFOREST PHOTOGRAPHY
For most landscape photography, we generally agree that the best light happens early in the morning and late in the afternoon on a sunny day. This gives us soft warmth in the sunlight and low contrast that makes it easy to get an even exposure throughout your photo. However, when shooting rainforests, I usually aim for the opposite approach.
Most of my rainforest photography is done in overcast weather in the middle of the day. All I want is the same thing I want for landscapes…low contrast light with a nice visual quality. So why the different approach?
As soon as you step under the rainforest canopy, the trees block out most of the light. But on a sunny day, small patches of bright sun find their way through. The result is an environment that is mostly dark, with little patches of white-hot sunlight. The resulting contrast means you will likely overexpose the sunny highlights AND underexpose the shadows.
Forget about looking for a technical solution…this contrast problem is not one that can be fixed with a change of aperture or shutter speed. No, the solution is to come back when the contrast isn’t there. And that’s on a cloudy day. I also prefer the middle of the day (between about 10am and 4pm) as I find I get more natural colours. Early morning and late afternoon you often get strange shifts in the colour balance that need fixing on the computer later.
This simple tip works for most types of photos taken in a forest, and also for most waterfall photos where exposure can be spoiled by sunny highlights on wet surfaces.
So if it’s sunny, go to the beach. But if it’s a bit cloudy, damp and even misty…head for the rainforest.